In May 2019, DB hosted a sustainability forum with the South Canterbury Food Processing and Manufacturers Group, the University of Canterbury and Aoraki Development to discuss how we could collectively manage by-products and waste.

Food processing and manufacturing is the largest industry sector in South Canterbury and annually accounts for nearly $2.5bn of exports. Existing and new players are attracted to the region because of its central South Island location, availability of high-quality water, access to the national and international markets via a thriving port and close proximity to raw product. The sector is extremely diverse and produces everything from vegetables, fish, dairy and meat through to honey, beer, vegetable juice and pet food. As the population in New Zealand grows, the stress on councils to manage waste will increase, particularly in regions like South Canterbury.

Three areas of focus were identified at the hui: biowastes, plastics, and effluents. These priorities were chosen due to the volume of waste within these categories, the identified potential to create local cross-company solutions, and the feasibility for any solutions to be translated to other regions of New Zealand.

Following the hui, two students were employed through Callaghan Innovation Student Experience Grants and hosted by DB. They evaluated the volume and composition of the waste streams and explored opportunities to recover these as useful products. The group are now exploring research and development opportunities that will explore circular solutions for the collective waste streams.